Chapter 9 The Reception and Criticism of Geo Widengren in the Nordic Countries: The Debate over the Origin of Religion

In: The Legacy, Life and Work of Geo Widengren and the Study of the History of Religions after World War II
René Gothóni
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Göran Larsson
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Although Geo Widengren was seldom afraid to voice his opinion on any matter that had to do with the study of religions, it is surprising that he seldom if ever addressed the explicit criticisms he received from Nordic colleagues, such as the Norwegian Biblical scholar and philologist Sigmund Mowinkel (1884–1965) and the Finnish ethnologist and scholar of religions Rafael Karsten (1879–1956). Since we argue that a study of how Widengren’s research was received by his contemporary colleagues in the Nordic countries casts light on some of the theoretical and methodological assumptions that explicitly or implicitly underpin his research, we will discuss Karsten’s extensive criticism of the two books of Widengren, namely Religionens värld (“The World of Religions”) and Religionens ursprung (“The Origin of Religion”).

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